You are having a baby — congratulations! Some say that there is no better experience than bringing a new life into the world, despite how difficult and tiring it can be at times.
Your life is about to be flipped upside down in the best way possible. In no time, you will be bringing home this tiny person that you love more than life itself. It would be lovely if you could just have the baby, and everything would go exactly as planned. Sometimes, this is the case!
However, like raising a toddler or teenager, it’s best to expect the unexpected, which means it’s time for a few research sessions. When you’re as prepared as possible, you can spend more time bonding with your new bundle of joy (or getting the sleep you crave).
You’ll have to get a bunch of cute tiny baby clothes, diapers, strollers, and more. If your plan involves breastfeeding, that’s part of the planning process as well.
Breastfeeding can be an amazing experience when having a baby, especially when it comes to bonding. However, just because something is “natural” doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Breastfeeding can be complex and require quite a bit of preparation for it to go as smoothly as possible. If you have decided to breastfeed, certain steps can help ensure you’re as prepared as possible.
When you hit your third trimester (or before), it is an opportune time to start researching all things breastfeeding and what is best for you and your family.
How Do You Prepare for Breastfeeding?
Try not to feel overwhelmed when preparing for this particular task. We know it’s easier said than done, but with some reading and fantastic support, you can approach your birth and postpartum with confidence.
Some steps you may want to take to prepare for breastfeeding include the following:
Purchase a Few Nursing Bras
Nursing bras are essential when it comes to breastfeeding. They are comfortable and provide you with the support you need. You can breastfeed your baby without removing the bra, as nursing bras have adjustable panels.
You’ll want to have a variety of nursing bras in case they get messy, as you may not be able to get around to washing them right away. There is no harm in buying a couple of different sizes, as you may go up a size or two while breastfeeding.
The fab thing about nursing bras now is they can be cute too! Just because you’re breastfeeding doesn’t mean you can’t still be fashionable.
Consider Nursing Pads
Nursing pads and breastfeeding go hand in hand. You’ll likely have leakage, and nursing pads will save you some messes. They may not eliminate all leak-throughs, but they can definitely help.
Packs of nursing pads are sold in multiples and are very user-friendly. Pick which size and thickness best fit your needs that day, and then simply insert one into your bra, and you are good to go.
Stock Up on Nipple Cream
Breastfeeding can lead to sore nipples. You shouldn’t have to be in pain while providing your baby with nutrients! Nipple cream or nipple balm can provide some pain relief, which helps make the breastfeeding process seem less daunting as well.
You can also use cold/hot gel pads when your breasts are sore.
Try Out a Nursing Pillow
When breastfeeding, you might find yourself hunched over, and your back may begin to feel sore. Nursing pillows make it easy to find a comfortable position for the baby without having to compromise your personal comfort. Prop your baby in the half-moon-shaped cut-out in the pillow and get to relaxing.
Definitely add a nursing pillow to your registry; you won’t regret it!
Research and Invest in a Breast Pump
Even if you aren’t planning to use a pump all the time, it’s smart to research what kind of breast pump you want in case there is a need for it.
Breast pumps can help with various circumstances. They can give you the freedom to take a break and allow other family members to take a turn feeding the baby. Breast pumps can also help working mothers care for their babies while away.
In some cases, pumping may help increase the milk supply or unclog the ducts associated with mastitis. Breast pumps also come in handy when babies struggle to latch, but mothers still want to provide their little ones with breast milk.
There are different brands and different prices. Some insurances even cover the cost of your breast pump! So, it’s best to get that process started before the baby arrives.
At The Mommy Care Kit, we are proud of our incredible breast pump. It is lightweight and comes with plenty of accessories, including a designated carrying case, four bottles, batteries, breast shields in various sizes, a cooler bag, and more. It’s part of the Complete Mommy Care Kit, which you might qualify for with your insurance.
If Possible, Take Advantage of Golden Hour
Just after giving birth, babies and caregivers might want to take advantage of the “golden hour.” Skin-to-skin contact during this time can help regulate the mother and baby’s temperature and reduce anxiety. It can also help prompt mothers to start lactating and encourage babies to latch.
Additionally, this is an excellent time to ask for help from your healthcare team if your baby needs assistance latching: Latching may take some trial and error.
Carve Out the Time You Need
It is important to know that breastfeeding is basically a full-time job all in itself. You are going to be very busy feeding that baby! Take steps to free up time, including reviewing your workplace’s policy on pumping, if applicable.
To make life even easier, pre-make dinners or ask friends and family to lend a hand around the house.
What Else Can Prepare You for Breastfeeding?
If you feel like you may want some extra help when it comes to breastfeeding, you’re not alone. Getting help from an expert is encouraged — you’ve joined a large club, and there’s lots of help to go around.
Take a Breastfeeding Class
Many expectant mothers enroll in breastfeeding classes. These classes can provide plenty of breastfeeding knowledge, including latch positions, nutrition, how to burp a newborn, and more. Classes may be in-person or online, so you have tons of avenues here. You may even make some mommy friends there to get together with after the baby is born.
Consider Recruiting a Lactation Consultant
No amount of research makes up for having a real live expert at your disposal. A lactation consultant can help with all the ifs, whys, and hows. From latching issues to milk production to breast health, a lactation consultant is there for any of your questions or concerns.
Nutrition While Breastfeeding
When you are breastfeeding, meals packed with nutrients and protein are your friend. Breastfeeding burns a lot of calories and energy. Mothers need to consume more calories than usual when breastfeeding.
Drink plenty of water while breastfeeding. Staying hydrated is essential for your health and your milk production. Ask your healthcare team about any medications you are or want to take and if they have certain vitamins that they recommend.
What if Breastfeeding Isn’t Going as Planned?
Breastfeeding, like childbirth and raising your mini person, is not always as simple as we’d like it to be. We have to be mentally prepared for it.
The more prepared we are, the better everything will (hopefully) go, but that doesn’t mean we are guaranteed not to hit any roadblocks.
If you have a tricky time breastfeeding, try not to stress out. Reach out to your OB-GYN or lactation consultant if you have one: They may be able to help you get past your obstacles.
Breastfeeding can be challenging both mentally and physically; be patient with yourself. Women’s bodies are amazing, and you’ll be so surprised by what your body can do.
If you still find yourself unable to breastfeed after trying everything you can, that is ok too! As the saying goes, fed is best! There is nothing wrong with switching to formula if you find yourself unable to breastfeed. As long as your baby is being fed and receiving the proper nutrients, you are doing great, mama!
We at The Mommy Care Kit know that parenting is hard. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to taking care of a baby, and we’re here to help along the way.